Slippery Elm for Dogs: Know The Benefits

By Chelsea Hunt-Rivera / December 31, 2018

As a doting pet owner, you’d go to the moon and back in order to ensure your dog’s health and well-being. Trust us, we get it. Dogs are members of our families, and their happiness is of the utmost importance. Sometimes, we inadvertently take our love a little too far and treat our four-legged companion to the things we view as the finer things in life… also known as table food.

Many pet owners slip their furry companion a bit of meat every now and then without any issues. However, if your dog’s tummy isn’t equipped to handle the tasty treat, trouble can quickly follow. Diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting can develop in seemingly no time at all leaving dog owners in a state of panic. What can you do to control the issue as soon as possible?

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you should know about a wonderful supplement called slippery elm. It may be just the remedy you need to relieve stomach problems caused by a multitude of reasons. Let’s get started!

What is Slippery Elm for Dogs

Slippery elm is a herb that can do wonders for your dog’s digestive tract. Experts describe it as not only one of the most beneficial herbs that you can give your dog, but also one of the safest. The herbal remedy is made from the inner bark of the Slippery or Red Elm tree (scientifically referred to as Ulmus rubra). The “slippery” element refers to the gel-like consistency that is formed when the powdered bark is mixed with water. Slippery elm is known for its soft, stringy texture and can be used in several different forms. (More on that in a moment!)

Slippery Elm For Dogs

What is Slippery Elm Bark

‘Slippery elm bark’ and ‘slippery elm’ are often used interchangeably. The supplement is made from the inner bark (not the whole bark) of the slippery elm tree and, therefore, some people refer to is as slippery elm bark. The tree is native to the central and eastern United States, yet more and more people (and dogs) all over the world are quickly learning of its benefits.

Also, we want to mention that although slippery elm bark is one of the ‘newer’ supplements gaining attention for its medicinal properties, it is certainly not newly discovered. In fact, Native American used the supplement for countless healing remedies. Furthermore, studies show that slippery elm is been apart of Western, Chinese, Ayurvedic, and other medical traditions for centuries.

Slippery Elm Benefits

Both people and dogs alike can benefit from slippery elm in more ways than you may imagine. Many pet owners may have heard about its incredible benefits for their dog’s stomach, but that’s only the beginning. In fact, even if your dog isn’t suffering from gastrointestinal issues, you may want to consider having the supplement on hand for other reasons.

Additionally, slippery elm can also benefit your feline friend in a number of ways! Once we cover all of the ways slippery elm can help Fido, we’ll briefly cover how it can also help your kitty.

Now, let’s dive into all of the ways how slippery elm may be able to help your furry companion(s).

Acute Diarrhea

Perhaps the most common reason why pet owners implement slippery elm is to relieve acute diarrhea in both dogs and cats. Slippery elm is a natural form of Kaopectate, making it an effective way to soothe your dog’s tummy problems. In fact, many dog owners call it an all natural Pepto-Bismol* as it works in a comparable way to ease gastrointestinal upset. When it comes to your dog eating something they shouldn’t, slippery elm is certainly a supplement that you’ll want to have on hand.

*It is important to note that Pepto-Bismol should never be given to your four-legged friends due to the fact that it contains salicylate (aspirin). Trust us, it will cause much more harm than good and can ultimately cause irreversible effects. Instead, choose a safe, effective supplement like slippery elm!

Additionally, we want to mention that in cases of acute diarrhea, pet owners should withhold food. When implementing their food back in (once their acute diarrhea calms down), start with a very bland diet. It is important to recognize what food source ultimately caused their dog to have an upset stomach and be sure to avoid feeding it in the future. Again, we strongly encourage our readers to stay away from feeding Fido table food, but we know accidents happen.

Slippery Elm For Dogs is better than pepto bismal for dogs

Acute Diarrhea vs Chronic Diarrhea

Before we move on, we want to make sure that our readers understand that not all diarrhea in dogs should be treated in the same manner. There are important differences between acute (sudden) cases of diarrhea and ongoing, chronic diarrhea and the appropriate treatment will likely vary. In cases of chronic diarrhea, the underlying cause must be addressed and managed. Chronic diarrhea can ultimately cause severe gastrointestinal upset, weight loss, dehydration, and the development of many other serious issues. If you recognize that your dog is experiencing ongoing bouts of diarrhea, we highly encourage you to talk to your veterinarian. A food allergy or chronic environmental poisoning may be to blame. While slippery elm may help relieve your dog’s symptoms, it won’t be able to solve the issue at hand.

Constipation in Dogs

Interestingly enough, slippery elm also soothes constipation in dogs (and their owners). As a natural source of fiber, the supplement can help move things along in your dog’s digestive tract. Additionally, experts believe that slippery elm can help coat the lining of inflamed mucous membranes and therefore work to effectively eliminate waste without causing additional gastrointestinal upset. In fact, the lubricating properties of slippery elm can also prevent constipation from developing in the first place. It may sound crazy that an all-natural herb can cure two opposite ailments, but that’s exactly why it’s becoming such a household staple.

Nausea and Vomiting

Remarkably, studies are continuing to prove that slippery elm can help ease additional issues in the gi tract, including providing relief for both nausea and vomiting. Furthermore, many dogs may experience nausea and vomiting due to non-GI tract disease such as kidney disease. In these cases, slippery elm can also help.

Keeping that in mind, both vomiting and nausea are what veterinarians consider to be ‘non-specific symptoms.’ Yes, they are certainly symptoms of your dog consuming something that causes them to have an upset stomach. However, nausea and vomiting are also clinical signs of a slew of other medical conditions that must be treated appropriately. Therefore, if your dog is experiencing chronic (ongoing) vomiting or nausea, please do not delay in getting them the veterinary treatment that they need.

Ulcers, Colitis, and Gastritis in Dogs

We mentioned that slippery elm can soothe acute gi tract issues. However, it can also help relieve chronic gastrointestinal tract conditions. A sad truth for many dogs (and their owners) is that irritable bowel syndrome, as well as inflammatory bowel disease, tend to be relatively common diagnoses that can greatly disturb typically day-to-day activities. In these cases, slippery elm proves to greatly reduce symptoms and works to manage the severity of the ailments. Let’s get a bit more specific!

Gastritis in dogs is a painful condition that is defined as inflammation of the gastric mucosa, or the dog’s stomach lining. The disease can either be acute or chronic, but either way… it can greatly affect your dog’s life. Like so many ailments, inflammation is once again to blame.

Colitis in dogs is a commonly diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease that develops from the inflammation of the large intestine or colon. Loose stool is the primary symptoms of colitis in dogs, making slippery elm an effective source of relief.

Finally, the slippery elm supplement can also help dogs suffering from both mouth and stomach ulcers in dogs and people alike. We’ve included a recipe that slippery elm syrup that can provide great relief for mouth ulcers in particular.

Full of Vitamins and Minerals

Remarkably, there’s even more good news! Slippery elm is chock full of incredible vitamins and minerals that are highly beneficial to dogs. Take a look at all of the health benefits that the herb contains.

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Fiber Magnesium
  • Beta-carotene
  • Trace minerals
  • Carbohydrates
  • Calcium
  • Ascorbic acid

All of this from an herb? You can see why so many pet owners are signing up for everything that slippery elm has to offer!

Slippery Elm For Dogs

Soothes Coughing & Respiratory Issues

We previously mentioned that the benefits of slippery elm don’t stop at its powerful effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Incredibly, the herb also provides a potent remedy for many respiratory issues. In fact, symptoms of conditions like kennel cough and bronchitis in dogs can both be treated using a slippery elm supplement. This is once again due to the all natural anti-inflammatory properties of the herb. (More on that below!)

Additionally, persistent coughing can quickly lead to a sore throat, making food consumption a challenge for many dogs. In these cases, slippery elm can also help. Experts recommend administering the herb in syrup form and using it to coat the back of the throat.

An All Natural Anti-Inflammatory

One of the main concerns that we constantly bring up in our articles is inflammation. Many pet owners may not fully realize just how detrimental inflammation truly is. We’ll explain.

When experts trace the vast majority of ailments back to their root source, they find that they all have one major thing in common: inflammation. From cancer to allergies to arthritis, inflammation is a driving force behind the medical issue. Therefore, doing all you can to eliminate present inflammation and prevent the development of future inflammation is absolutely paramount. That’s where slippery elm comes into play.

Slippery elm is an all natural anti-inflammatory. Its anti-inflammatory properties are what make it so effective at relieving chronic gastrointestinal problems as well as soothing respiratory issues.

Skin Conditions

Additionally, pet owners can create a paste from slippery elm powder and use it to directly treat a slew of skin problems ranging from hot spots to insect bites to scratches and rashes. This method of healing traces back to when Native Americans used slippery elm bark in order to stop bleeding. When left to dry, the paste becomes a bandage that can also prevent a worsening of the problem as well as prevent the development of infection.

An “Emergency Food”

In addition to easing vomiting and diarrhea, many experts refer to slippery elm as an “emergency food.” This is due to the fact that slippery elm can stay down when other foods cannot. Even the most upset stomachs can tolerate the herb. Therefore, a slippery elm supplement can be extremely beneficial for dogs who are recovering from an illness or from a medical procedure.

Keeping that in mind, it is important for dog owners to understand that slippery elm can interfere with the absorption of conventional medications. Therefore, if your dog is presently taking prescription drugs, be sure to talk to your veterinarian regarding the ways that slippery elm may affect them.

Dogs with Cystitis

Additionally, dogs with a wide array of internal medical issues may also benefit from slippery elm. For instance, slippery elm helps dogs with cystitis (inflammation of the urinary tract and/or bladder) due to the fact that it soothes the bladder lining.

Slippery Elm Side Effects

With all of the wonderful benefits of slippery elm, many pet owners wonder what the ‘catch’ is. Is it really possible for an herb to do so much without possible adverse reactions?

In terms of slippery elm, we are happy to inform our readers that the supplement has virtually no side effects on dogs.

The only thing pet owners should be aware of is that due to its mucilage quality, slippery elm should be given separately from any conventional medications. Most experts recommend giving any other medications 1-2 hours prior to administering slippery elm in order to ensure the medicines are fully absorbed. As with all new supplements, we recommend consulting with your holistic veterinarian to make sure your dog is able to reap all of the benefits that slippery elm can offer.

Slippery Elm Uses: How to Implement the Supplement!

By now, you’re likely sold on the incredible, nontoxic herb, and we don’t blame you! Now, let’s cover how you may want to implement the supplement into your dog’s diet.

Slippery Elm Capsule

Many pet owners opt to purchase slippery elm in capsule form. If you choose to use slippery elm in capsule form, experts recommend administering:

  • ¼ capsule twice daily for small dogs
  • ½ capsule twice daily for medium dogs
  • One capsule once or twice daily for large dogs

Pet owners can mix the contents of the capsule into their dog’s food or with yogurt.

Slippery Elm For Dogs capsules

Slippery Elm Powder

Additionally, pet owners can purchase slippery elm powder for their beloved four-legged companion. We recommend giving a ¼ teaspoon of powder for every 10 lbs of body weight. Many pet owners have found success in mixing the powder into their dog’s food or with some tasty dog-approved yogurt.

Slippery Elm Syrup

As we previously mentioned, the use of slippery elm syrup can greatly benefit dogs suffering from a sore throat as well as mouth ulcers.

  • Here’s one of our favorite recipes for making slippery elm syrup!
  • First,  mix 1 teaspoon of slippery elm powder into 1 cup of cold water
  • Then, bring the mixture to a boil while continuing to stir
  • Once at a boil, turn down the heat
  • Next, stir the mixture and allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes
  • Remove from heat
  • Then, add 1 tablespoon of honey and allow the syrup to cool and thicken

The recommended dosage for slippery elm syrup is as follows:

  • Dogs under 25 lbs, 1-2 tablespoons
  • For dogs 25-50 lbs, 2 to 4 tablespoons
  • Dogs 50 lbs and over, ¼ to ½ cup

Dog owners can administer the syrup up to four times per day.

Slippery Elm Paste

Finally, by mixing slippery elm powder with cold water, dog owners can create a paste to use directly on their dog’s skin. To reiterate, using slippery elm paste on your dog’s skin forms a type of ‘band-aid’ that can help prevent a worsening of whatever skin issue they are facing. When you want to remove it, simply moisten it with water. As an added bonus, the anti-inflammatory properties of slippery elm will also help the healing process.

Slippery Elm Dosage

Ultimately, the appropriate dosage of slippery elm will depend on your dog’s body weight. We have included recommended dosages above, however, we highly recommend consulting with your holistic veterinarian regarding an exact dose for your dog’s individual needs. Luckily, the new addition to your dog’s diet proves to be incredibly safe. Even still, we always encourage our readers to go slowly whenever introducing a new supplement into their pet’s life.

Where to Buy Slippery Elm for Dogs

Slippery elm is available for purchase at the vast majority of health food stores in both capsule and powder form. It is also easily purchased from a number of online stores. With that said, whenever purchasing a new supplement for either yourself or for your dog, it is imperative to ensure you are buying from a reputable company. A good way to make sure is by checking for third-party accreditation. Of course, another great way to make sure you are buying the best product is to simply ask your veterinarian for their recommendations. The last thing that you want to do is purchase a sub-par product that won’t deliver on all of the phenomenal benefits we covered.

Bonus! Slippery Elm for Cats

Last, but certainly not least… slippery elm for cats!

Many of our readers are owners of cats and dogs and often wonder if the same supplement is safe for both of their fur babies. First and foremost, it is always important to double check and to never assume that just because a supplement is safe for your dog that it is also safe for your kitty. In many cases, cats can be much more sensitive and should steer clear from a supplement that may actually benefit dogs.

However, when it comes to slippery elm, the herb is safe for both cats and dogs. In fact, your feline can benefit in the same ways that your canine can. From relieving cat constipation, diarrhea, and delivering plenty of nutritional value, many cat owners are actively implementing slippery elm into their cat’s diet.

Slippery Elm For cats

Slippery Elm for Dogs: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we know that you want nothing but the best for your four-legged companions. Unfortunately, as much as they give you those big sad puppy eyes, it is important to withhold food meant for human consumption. Your dog’s digestive tract is very different than yours and they simply aren’t equipped to handle many foods.

With that said, we know that from time to time it’s only natural to slip up and give Fido a tasty treat from the table. If tummy issues result, we highly recommend trying slippery elm for dogs. We love the fact that the nontoxic herbal supplement has so many benefits while simultaneously being incredibly safe.

Furthermore, for both dogs and cats who suffer from chronic gastrointestinal issues, slippery elm can make a world of difference. Its anti-inflammatory properties alone are enough to make it an important staple in your household.

Again, we encourage our readers to talk to their holistic veterinarian regarding the incredible ways that slippery elm may be able to help their dogs and cats.


The Soothing Qualities of Slippery Elm

A Guide to Using Slippery Elm for Pets (From Wounds to Tummy Trouble, It Heals)



About the author

Chelsea Hunt-Rivera

Chelsea Rivera is a Dedicated Pet Parent who loves to create amazing content for pet owners and is helping change pet wellness as the Head of Content for